Monday, November 26, 2007

China - Day 7 - Xian to Shanghai

(above: Shanghai market area)
Day 7 started early, a recurring theme throughout our trip. Unfortunatly we had to leave Xian before we really got to enjoy it. We barely got a glimpse of some of the treasures that city had, and while I doubt I will make any extra effort to visit the place again, if I do, I must find a way to rent a bike and ride it along the city wall. I'd also like to hang out with some locals there. There is very little tourism in Xian other than to the Terracotta soldiers, so unless the locals live or work within that specific region, exposure to westerners is limited. I really wanted to understand Xian a little better, there seemed to be a great energy there that I was disallowed to tap into. Anyhow, we had virtually no time in the morning as we were off to the airport and then to Shanghai, the excitement of which quickly filled any void I felt from Xian.

We arrived in Shanghai and scored an amazing hotel for the night, the 4 points Sheraton. A 5 star hotel with amazing accommodations. We also lucked out with an incredible tour guide. A 30-40 year old brilliant academic type man. We were only scheduled to be in Shanghai for that evening and the following half day as we had a pretty early flight to Guilin. I didn't really process how short that time would actually be, until we drove into the city of Shanghai and I realized how much I wanted to stay.

Shanghai is immense. I can't even begin to tell you how many skyscrapers there are there. It's basically Manhattan....on crack. Apparently Shanghai blossomed very late in the industrial revolution, no real growth really took hold until about 25 years ago, which was great for the city. With a virtual blank canvas to develop, modern technology and architecture took root and has spread like crazy throughout the region.

The only problem with such rapid development is pollution. And Shanghai is dirty.

From the skies to the seas, filth overwhelms. Shanghai is still a beautiful city, despite it's waste, but something needs to be done. That amount of pollution is a global problem, not a local one. Not to get too Al Gore on everyone, but this is a problem we will be facing as a global community within the next 10 years. Even my camera fell victim to the dirty living space. I felt as though I was back home taking shots of the wildfires judging from the amount of dirt that found it's way inside my camera and thus onto most of my photos.

On our way to the hotel we stopped in the city for dinner and shopping. We were treated to another amazing, traditional Chinese dinner...I think we had more duck and chicken...

I was losing my mind at this point as the food was becoming one gigantic dish of the same mystery meats and veggies. We washed up and headed out, half of the group going to the hotel with the bus, the rest going shopping and getting a cab to get home. We walked down the busy streets and peeked into the various store fronts. I mysteriously found a desire to buy a watch. For no other reason than over commercialism and availability of cheap products, I found I needed one. So while I started looking at watches, Jessica started doing the same with designer (knock off) purses. Most of the stuff we found was utter crap, but it was still fun looking none the less. I can only last so long in such environments. The longer I am packed in with masses of people the more rage builds inside of me eventually leading to me acting like a bulldozer. I lower my head, square my shoulders and start plowing my way through the crowds of innocent people dragging Jessica behind me and taking no mercy on the speed bumps of smaller Asians in front of me.

Anyhow, we made our way back through the city to our Hotel in a cab. It was dark when we arrived, and Shanghai is known for it's lights. Practically every building, from the most prominent to the most dilapidated, decked out their building side with incredible lights. Our hotel was no different, we were greeted with a 20 story plus tower with a beautiful display of color and design. We checked in and found ourselves surrounded by opulence and wealth. That Hotel was absolutely baller.

Jessica was getting antsy to find a decent nightlife in China. She had visions of a crazy disco/karaoke house filled with techno music and crazy Chinese youth. So, as we got off the bus, we pulled our guide aside and asked him for some recommendations. He kindly jotted down the name of some bar district in Chinese for us to hand a cabby and we were off. Jim was eager to join in as the rest of the group was pretty much all yawns at this point. We got a relatively late start to the night, we ended up leaving the hotel at about 10 pm. Mind you this was the middle of the work week and most places were already closed. We made it to the bar scene at around 10:30 and found a handful of really cool looking places. The first of which was a authentic German Bar complete with Chinese waitresses dressed in laider hoisen, and incredible beer.

I was starting to get tired of nothing but traditional Chinese food, so I ordered a plate of German Sausage, which accompanied with a German Lager is most excellent I must say. We finished our boots of glorious beer and checked out a few more bars on the way home. We stumbled into a nice little dancing bar, crammed with people. I'm not sure if it met Jessica's desires, but it seemed crazy enough to me =) and the rest of that night is really a blur to me.

We got back to our hotel around 1 and passed out, somewhat disappointed the day was over, but we were in store for some great news the next day.

Days 1-2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8 Day 9 Day 10 Days 11-12 Day 13


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